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food plot help---first timer

Old 12-01-2008, 06:10 PM
  #1  
Nontypical Buck
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Default food plot help---first timer

Our farm is currently being logged. All of our oaks are being removed, so we are without acorns now, which were a major food source when the crops were removed.

The loggers are leaving roads down the ridges into the bottom of the hollows, which mean 2 things for me:
1) I am able to get into areas I never was able to before.
2) The roads are also in interesting locations to put some harvest plots.

Now I know thatthis is often the case, but I am trying to do this on a low budget. So far, I am planning on white clover and broadcasting it over some disked up ground.

My major goal is simply to just hold deer in the area after the crops are taken out. There will be bedding all over with the tree tops littering the ground, and the canopy opening up allowing extra growth. However, there will be nothing but persimmions after the beans and corn are cut.

Any help would be greatly appreciated on any step from preparing the plots, to planting, to maintaining them.
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Old 12-01-2008, 07:40 PM
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Default RE: food plot help---first timer

Christ, I shudder when I hear these stories. Who is logging and who is calling the shots? Did you get an inventory before you let people start taking trees down?

You should always leave several trees per acre, wolf, or seed trees to remain for seeding the property. Did you do a site survey?
Do you have a soil index?

The most costly thing you can do is not spend the 12 to 15 hundred dollars and get the property inventoried.

Acorn mast is a very important part of the food source on any property. It takes about thirty years for an oak to mature to the point that it is producing a decent crop of acorns.

Did you do a contract? How and where are they leaving the tree tops? These are but a few questions you should have answereed before the first chainsaws are started.
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Old 12-01-2008, 09:47 PM
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Default RE: food plot help---first timer

The logging was a must to keep the farm. After a 3 year long legal battle within the family (talk about a mess), the trees are a way to pay off the fees that have accumulated. This is not a clear cut, and only the fully mature trees are being cut. We had the entire farm looked at and appraised before anyone was able to step onto it with a chainsaw.

As far as I know, the treetops are just being left as they lay on the forest floor.

The lack of mast crops is the reason why I want to put some food plots in.
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Old 12-08-2008, 03:42 PM
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Default RE: food plot help---first timer

I too had large oaks removed from my timber. It happened about 3 - 4 years ago. Looked like a bomb went off. Logger was good and did everything I asked. When dropping giant oaks you can't help but destroy some stuff. The timber is barely just starting to bounce back. There are still plenty of trees that produce acorns. I planted a several CRP fields and a couple log staging area in the middle of the timber with different brands of food plot mix. I am severely disappointed with the lack of deer browsing the plots. They hit them early and I suspect they will hit them late. Otherwise, I think there are plenty of row crop fields (beans and corn), alfalfa, clover, and fruit trees in the area, which keep them fed. Don't get me wrong, food plots are good. I just don't have the luck I envisioned while hunting over the food plots. What I mean is - the deer that came by didn't stay to feed. They just moved on through or around the plots to their original destination.

I am beginning to believe that food plots are over rated for my area of Illinois. I've tried a lot of mixtures. The Whitetail Institute (WI) products are very good. Tecomate came up well, but didn't have the staying power as did the WI clover. I even planted garden seed like lettuce, peas, and beans.

I suggest soil testing first and planting a variety second. Also, the expensive oats are no better than cheap oats IMO. I did a side by side comparison and had deer in both. Check with your local farm service agancy for advice on fertilizer and herbicides. Get ready to spend plenty of $$$. And, get ready to deal with weeds in your plots. It is an expensive and time consuming adventure. My 3 acre clover field was prescribed $600 of liime and fertilizer this year alone.

Myself, I am going to plant warm season native grasses in my CRP fields. Currently the fields have a ton of fescue, which is worthless to game especially quail and pheasants. My time and effort for deer will switch to creating bedding areas. I will still put in some plots, but not get so hung up on acres of it.
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Old 12-08-2008, 10:08 PM
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Default RE: food plot help---first timer

Food plots are a good part of a larger plan - and can be beneficial. On logged areas - I'd suggest planting annual plots like Cereal grains (rye, winter wheat - even oats, etc.) to start out. On Forest soils - usually you need to get the organic % up to a level that will support a perenial plot. Probably several years of growing, mowing tilling back in - plus (most likely) a good bit of lime.- get the soil tests done - BEFORE you mess with the soils, its important (and cheap) -to have a base point. After a few years and tillages- you should consider clovers or other perennial type forage plots.

All that said - not many plots can compete with 2-3-4 year forest regeneration. If the logging was fairly extensive - your "regrowth" will be you main food plot. But - planted food plots can also be important part of your management program going forward.

FH

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Old 12-10-2008, 05:52 PM
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Default RE: food plot help---first timer

ORIGINAL: Illinois Buck Hunter

The logging was a must to keep the farm. After a 3 year long legal battle within the family (talk about a mess), the trees are a way to pay off the fees that have accumulated. This is not a clear cut, and only the fully mature trees are being cut. We had the entire farm looked at and appraised before anyone was able to step onto it with a chainsaw.

As far as I know, the treetops are just being left as they lay on the forest floor.

The lack of mast crops is the reason why I want to put some food plots in.
Thats unfortunate. Many loggers come in an area and cherry pick the best trees, and don't bother with the smaller stuff. This has the unfortunate effect of still keeping the sunlight out and the timber they have left is typically useless for anything other than firewood. . (more on this in a moment)

Slash (treetops) have 2 purposes or faults. If you have a large deer herd, it is often beneficial as the tree tops are a cheap fence if you will, to keep the deer from gnawing on the new seedlings and rootstock that typically sprout after a cut.

If that is not an issue and you want to move around the property, it is usually put in the contract to make sure all tree tops are limbed so they are laying flat on the ground. You can also use them or sell them to someone that wants to sell them or use them for firewood. This is another way to make money towards your leagl fees, especially with the price of wood and fuel these days! This by the way makes great winter deer food if timed right. The deer will come in there if they are hungry and start eating the browse on the treetops. My cousin used to call his chansaw a deer call, because as soon as he started it up, the deer would be right behind him eatimg the treetops.

As far as cherry picking, (and I don't know the age of your stand, or the types of trees etc., So I am shooting kinda blind here) when a forest stand is clearcut all the trees come back in a succession. Birches, cedars, pines, come back first, and they vie for sunlight, nutrients etc. As the stand matures, some trees get more nutrients and light and do better. However they are all the same age. So now you have a 50 year old tree that is 30-40 inches in diameter, and it is straight and tall and has few lower branches. This tree is worth much more than the smaller 15" barely saw timber stuff around it, growing in its shade. These trees will never be worthanywhere nearwhat the 30" veneer grade logs were that the logger took from the property and probably paid you pennies on the dollar.

This is why it is so important to have the property inventoried and a site survey done by a licensed forester. Inventories don't cost, they pay!!

Let me tell you something that happend to a friend of mine. He wanted to open up some property for habitat enhancement. We looked over the property and decided to have several companies come in and give us a price on what they wanted. We wanted a 2 acre clearcut, and a select cut on the remainder of the property. The site index was marginal, thin soils etc, but there were a number of decent oaks on the property and some cherry and other hardwoods and pine. The first guy gave a price of $7000.00 after cruising. The second guy was a real mooch, and said he wouldn't give us a price, he would just pay him as he harvested! The third guy told us he would give him $14000.00. At that point, before the next guy came in we pulled several of the biggest red oaks and all the white oak and cherryout of the inventory. The next company who cruised the property, inventoried what he wanted and gave him a bid of 20,000.00! In the contract was a slash clause so nothing could be left of a treetop unless it was cut to the ground. All the roads were planted and the forward areas were planted also.

He later sold the cherry for an aditional $3500.00, bringing the total, before the firewood he sold, (and he took a lot home) $23,500.00.

There's not much that can be done about the people that have already done this, but I hope a few people read this and avoid the situation before it happens. Check with your ag centers and the state for reputable foresters. Then hire them to do an inventory. In most cases the same guy that does your inventory should NOT be the guy that does the logging.

Anyone with questions can pm me if they like. I don't do this for a living and I am not selling anything, just trying to help.
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Old 12-10-2008, 08:02 PM
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Default RE: food plot help---first timer

We had 3 loggers come in and price the place. 2 gave us a similar gross price, while the other was very low.

The difference between the 2 that were giving a good price was one wanted a 50/50 split, while the other wanted a 70/30 (in our favor).

The logging was not something thatwe wanted to do, but some things have to be done and this was one thing that was necessary in order to keep the place.
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